Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Den Danske Kronike, a Danish Newspaper in Spokane, Now Online

Advertisement for Spokane College, which was built in 1907 by the Norwegian Lutheran Community and stood near the corner of Grand and 29th. The college closed in 1929.  Source:  Den Danske Kronike, September 23, 1917 p. 3.

Spokane has from the beginning had its strong immigrant communities--some of which published newspapers in their own languages. According to the Library of Congress' U.S. Newspaper Directory, Spokane has hosted newspapers in Swedish, Norwegian, Swedish, German, and Italian. Today I ran into Den Danske Kronike, a Danish-language newspaper that is available online here, courtesy of the Washington State Library. The newspaper published for only little more than a year in 1916 and 1917. Its masthead proclaimed (in English) that it was "A weekly newspaper published in the interest of 10,000 danish- and norwegian- born Americans in the Pacific Northwest." As if to emphasize that its readers were loyal Americans it also bore the motto "Aerica First!"

If I could read Danish this would be a better post--but even without knowing the language these ethnic newspapers can tell us something about their communities. Den Danske Kronike served to inform readers both about events back home and also serve as a guide to local events and businesses. The front page (of the four-page sheet) featured news from Denmark. And ad for the Scandinavian-American bank offered readers to join its "Prosperity Club" whose model was "Save to keep and not save to spend."

Inside, the paper focused on local news of interest to the community. The advertisements point to a community that is prosperous, geographically scattered throughout the city, and often (from the frequency of English words) bilingual. Advertisers include doctors lawyers and other professional, often with Danish-sounding names; photographers; confectionary shops, colleges and business schools, and quite a few clothing stores.

"The time has come to get ready for the Great Danish Banquet to be held at Odin Hall by the Danish Brotherhood October 10," advised one advertiser. "Every good Danish citizen will be there with bells on--so to speak." The clothing store, named The Palace, goes on to describe the "exquisite inexpensive evening gowns" and fabrics for sale. The advertisement, all in English but very much tailored to the Danish readers of the paper, gives us a snapshot of a community that has its own fraternal organization, an annual festival, and the spending money to dress up for the occasion.

I thought at first that it was the very assimilation of its target audience that accounts for the short run of Den Danske Kronike, which published fewer than 70 weekly issues in its 16-month existence. But I see from the Washington State Library's description that the First World War was the immediate cause:

A weekly Danish-language newspaper, published in Spokane, WA by Ingvard Eskeberg and N. Berletsen Nelson. It was published in the interest of 10,000 Danish and Norwegian born Americans in the Pacific Northwest. It was published every Saturday from the offices located at Riverside Ave., Spokane, WA with the subscription cost of $1 a year. In Dec. 1917, the newspaper ceased when Ingvard Eskerberg felt it was his duty to enlist in the aviation corp of the U.S. Navy during World War I.

The original copies of Den Danske Kronike were donated to the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture by the Eskerberg family, and it is from those copies that the State Library digitized the newspaper.